An uncontested divorce is much more streamlined than a contested divorce. It is quicker and less expensive than a contested divorce as the parties have agreed to all key terms of the divorce and so litigation is not necessary. Reaching a point where you are able to seek an uncontested divorce, however, is difficult because, as previously stated, you and your spouse must agree to all key terms of the divorce. This includes agreeing on things like division of debts, division of property, Possession schedules and conservatorship for children, and spousal maintenance. If you and your spouse have achieved this, however, you may proceed in seeking an uncontested divorce.
What is the Process for an Uncontested Divorce in Texas?
To seek an uncontested divorce in Texas, you must, first and foremost, meet residency requirements. You or your spouse must have resided in Texas for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce. Furthermore, you or your spouse must have lived in the county where you are filing for at least 3 months. If you meet these residency requirements, you are clear to start the process by getting a Petition of Divorce form. You can get this at the county court clerk’s office in the county district court where you reside. Complete the form and provided all requested information pertaining to your finances and proposed settlement arrangements. Sign the petition and return it to the clerk’s office. You will need two copies of the form and be required to pay a filing fee. You will then be assigned to a court and a case number by the clerk.
A copy of the petition must be delivered to your spouse. This can be done through the sheriff’s office or by a private process server. You may, however, get a Waiver of Citation form from the clerk which, if properly executed by your spouse, replaces the need for formal process served on your spouse. It is an especially good option in an uncontested divorce where both parties are trying to get the divorce resolved as easily as possible. You will need to mail the Waiver of Citation form along with a copy of the petition to your spouse. Your spouse will need to sign the waiver which shows that he or she is agreeing not to be served the petition by a court representative. The proof of service will need to be filed with the clerk’s office and then will schedule your court hearing. The hearing cannot occur until 60 days have passed since filing.
The 60-day waiting period is a good time to iron out any remaining settlement agreement details and prepare a final divorce decree which sets forth the details of the settlement agreement. Bring this Final Decree of Divorce with you when you go to court to “prove-up” your divorce. The judge will review the paperwork. You will need to testify about your marriage and divorce before the court. Some sample Testimony can be found here:
Only one of the spouses will need to appear in court and testify. Once that is done, the Court will sign the Final Decree of Divorce, as long as it meets the court’s requirements.
Once the order has been signed by the judge, you will need to take it to the clerk’s office for filing and get two certified copies. Give one copy to your former spouse. The other copy is for your own records.
Challenges of Uncontested Divorces
Working towards an uncontested divorce is not always, or often, easy. There are many contentious issues that must be agreed upon before it is possible. There are also many potential pitfalls in the process of drafting your Final Decree of Divorce. Even parties with the best of intentions can make big mistakes in drafting their decrees that can take years and thousands of dollars to fix, if at all.
Check out our blog on whether an uncontested divorce is a good fit for you here: http://youngbergfamilylaw.com/2019/04/25/uncontested-divorce-do-i-need-a-lawyer/
Trusted Texas Divorce Counsel
The Youngberg Law Firm can help you with this process. We can review a proposed settlement agreement to make sure it is in your best interest to proceed. Also, we will be there for you if an uncontested divorce turns into a contested divorce. Oftentimes couples start off on more agreeable footing and things get heated when discussing the settlement agreement. This leads to breakdowns in communication and people who started with the best of intentions end up in a bitter contested divorce. We can help you avoid contention and move on with your life. Whatever the situation may be, we are here for you. Contact us today.